American Thoroughbred racehorse Medina Spirit, winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, turned out positive for a drug test, causing the two-year suspension of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
On May 9, Baffert announced that the racehorse was tested positive for a joint injection/anti-inflammatory medication called betamethasone. The steroid on the colt’s body was at 21 picograms, exceeding the allowed amount.
It was not yet settled whether it can affect the horse’s win.
The horse trainer’s suspension, meanwhile, was effective urgently. It banned him along with the trainers under him to join horses in races, as well as for signing up to occupy a stall at the racetracks owned by the Churchill Downs, the complex announced through a statement.
On Wednesday, Baffert’s legal representative Craig Robertson told ABC News that the sample confirmed that the amount of betamethasone on the colt was at 25 picograms.
The attorney, however, underscored that the steroid found at the Medina Spirit was not caused by an injection but by a topical ointment called Otomax. He said further testing is being done.
“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax,” he said. “We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”
The decision by Churchill Downs to suspend Baffert followed the confirmation of the drug test, according to the racing complex.
“CDI has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly,” the CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, Bill Carstanjen, said. “Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated.”
Medina Spirit won over Mandaloun in the Derby last May 1. This made Baffert bag his seventh victory and made him the most successful trainer in the 147 years of the Derby.